Doomsday

DVD NTSC
Region 1
14-episode
box set

DVD PAL
Region 2
14-episode
box set
DVD PAL
Region 2
plain 3-episode volume
(Doctor Who Story No. 181, starring David Tennant)
  • written by Russell T. Davies
  • directed by Graeme Harper
  • produced by Phil Collinson
  • music by Murray Gold
  • 2 episodes @ 45 minutes each
    1. Army of Ghosts
    2. Doomsday
Story: The people of Earth have begun to become accustomed to regular visits from ghost-like figures during something called "Ghostshift". Are they really benign appearances from loved ones, as Jackie Tyler believes? The Doctor's investigations lead him to a Torchwood skyscraper in Canary Wharf, where some dangerous dimensional experiments attract a host of old friends and older enemies. Will Rose and her family be able to survive the brewing climactic confrontation intact?

DVD Extras (box sets only) include:

  • Episode One audio commentary by Noel Clarke (Mickey Smith), Tracy-Ann Oberman (Yvonne Hartman), and Raji James (Dr. Rajesh Singh).
  • Episode Two picture-in-picture commentary by David Tennant (The Doctor), and Billie Piper (Rose Tyler).
  • Doctor Who Confidential featurette: Welcome to Torchwood (13 min.) adding Camille Coduri (Jackie), Nicholas Briggs (special voices),
    writer Russell T. Davies, director Graeme Harper, visual effects producer Will Cohen, producers Phil Collinson and Julie Gardner, and
    DW Magazine editor Clayton Hickman.
  • Doctor Who Confidential featurette: Finale (10 min.) with Tennant, Piper, Davies, Harper, and Collinson.
  • David Tennant's Video Diaries (season total: 85 min.)
  • Deleted Scenes (season total: 16 min.)
  • Outtakes & Bloopers (season total: 8 min.)

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)


Doctor Who's 28th season comes to an exciting conclusion with one of the best stories Russell T. Davies has ever crafted for the show. Like last year's finale "Bad Wolf" (story no. 170), it is still a bit of a patchwork quilt of various elements, but this time around the elements are all of a higher calibre, and something most fans and members of a general audience would love to see more than once. And there are enough major events on both the personal and universal scales to allow this story to earn the label of "epic" like the other full-length stories this season. Excellent.

But the achievement this time around is more of craftsmanship than writing per se, as many of Russell's quieter stories contain sharper, wittier dialogue, more poignantly-written character moments, and more engaging plot stratagems. "Doomsday" is fantastic entertainment, but not quite the great story that "The Impossible Planet" (story no. 178) or "Rise of the Cybermen" (story no. 176) are. In the end, it will have to duke it out with "School Reunion" (story no. 174) for third place in the season's rankings.


The pre-title sequence is brilliant, very similar to "Father's Day" (story no. 167), only more cinematic, and capable of introducing even a brand new viewer to all the basics about the show and bringing them up-to-speed on its two most central current characters. It also makes it appear that the Doctor and Rose often visit the very kind of excellent setting that the producers have been way too stingey to put on screen more than once or twice in the past two years.

Thirdly, it makes no bones about the fact that this is Rose's last story, and raises instead some very disturbing questions about how she might achieve her exit. Very excellent.

And the show's creators remember to materialize the TARDIS properly to start the story off right. Sweet. Yeah, we're stuck with a present day Earth, England, London setting for the third adventure in a row, but with the consolation of finally being able to ditch Rose, I'll not complain, and this setting can and does manage to become the most interesting place in the universe once the various story elements start to kick in.

Davies falls back on some of his most staple elements to build his story. Once more, the Doctor is seen to sit and flip channels on the TV in the living room, delivering a montage of international news clips to get the sense that the latest threat to the neighbourhood is actually a global problem. While I might normally get tired of yet another shameless TV love-in from old T., this time there actually happens to be someone that I know in the sequence, which is the only thing that seems to make these types of montages worthwhile.

Camille Coduri is back to give the real Jackie Tyler her most substantial showing for the season. Camille's timing is excellent, making Jackie one of the all-time great comic foils of the show, with superb assists from her co-stars. Nice job.

Yvonne Hartman makes a somewhat strange character to lead people in dealing with the threats from the unknown. Thankfully all the usual boring prisoner dynamics are thrown out the window here. Yvonne's a people person, and doesn't do that. Good for her. Her role tends more towards a combination of exposition point-person and slightly threatening Doctor's foil in the early stages, where her character works very well. Later on.... not so much, for reasons I'll only go into in the In-depth Analysis version of this review. The growing legend of Torchwood suggested that it deserved better.

The list of great returning characters for this story continues.... as does my reluctance to reveal any spoilers....

We are also blessed with the presence of Freema Agyeman, this time playing the look-a-like cousin of future companion Martha Jones. Freema does an excellent job of both phases of her minor role, managing to bring a dynamic we've seen in several old classic Doctor Who stories to a new level. The on-screen representation of one of the story's key processes is once again silly though, and remains director Graeme Harper's most significant loss of marks. Exactly what is supposed to be going on here? I suspect the filmmakers aren't really thinking of that, but rather simply have frightening the audience in mind instead, and the sequence is much less believable, and therefore less frightening, because of it.

The plot's weakest point is probably in the middle of the middle act, specifically where Davies seems to be grasping at straws to find reasons why the Doctor and friends are still alive. Although the story is still working fairly well as a mystery with regards to its sci-fi / physics / enemy mythology / character motivation elements, it really doesn't provide the engaging stratagems that make such stories great. Not bad for an average outing, but other stories this season have done better.


"Every Single Decision...."

I'll be forever grateful that writer Russell T. Davies included a supremely magnificent line that might have been cut under more clumsy hands, and that he gave that line to the Doctor: "Every single decision we make creates a parallel existence, a different dimension...."
There's no better cure for bad time-travel theory than parallel universes, and here Davies allows the Doctor to prove that he knows that, AND that he knows the most common, unstoppable, inescapable way of navigating yourself into one: the act of choice. The operative phrase in the line is "Every single decision", meaning you don't chuck parallel universe theory when questions of preserving history are dredged up. If we allow the meaning of this line to apply to Rose's big initial decision in
"Father's Day" (story no. 167), it's easy to see that that version of Pete Tyler is every bit as legitimate as anything that happens in this story. It also has the power to make nonsense of at least one remark in nearly every story of the previous year.

And even here, you have to wonder if it isn't making nonsense of at least some of the techno-babble attempting to make the crossing between parallel universes a rare, pseudo-impossible, unrepeatable event. I'm not convinced. As long as we want the Doctor to step into his adventures heroically AND travel through time, we will need parallel universes and parallel histories to allow there to be stakes and consequences in the adventures, even more so when confining ourselves unnecessarily to Earth settings. While this may be only the third story in 180 to openly deal with the subject after "Inferno" (story no. 54) and "Rise of the Cybermen" (story no. 176), the latter of which helped enormously to set this story up, I predict we will see more and more parallel universe stories as Doctor Who matures with our own understanding of time, choice, the cosmos, and physics - be it quantum or otherwise.


Sadly, this tale seems to be putting two decent theories of linked plots in Season 28 to rest. But like so many other potential spoilers in my original review, I'll have to save that discussion for the In-depth Analysis version only. Do come back and read it after you've seen the story; there's a lot more there.

It isn't long before the writer's real purpose reveals itself - to permanently lose Rose while giving the audience an emotionally satisfying ride. David Tennant and Billie Piper get some heavily emotional scenes to sink their teeth into, which they do with gusto. Rose's end of it is far too sappy for my tastes, not least of which because I've never been enamoured with her or her nebulous relationship with the Doctor to want to invest in it in the depth that the producers would like their audience to. And although it might be obvious why excesses of mascara and make-up are a huge mistake, and why scenes of blubbering companions are another big mistake, Rose/Piper proves definitively why the combination is a disaster. At least there is a real loss happening, preventing this from being one of those old scenes we used to get with characters who blubber over nothing significant at all. David Tennant is moving in his performance, while providing enough restraint to remain tasteful and dignified. Nice.

But the real hero of this final sequence has to be Murray Gold, who provides the music enabling and compelling me to invest in the intended emotional ride far more than the characters or their performances ever could have alone.

Once again, Gold is able to draw upon a rich tapestry of emotional themes and appropriate action pieces all throughout the story, making this adventure's audio track a bit of a bonanza of his best music from the last two seasons. From a partly disguised accompaniment from "Song for Ten" playing behind the first episode's teaser, to the signature rousing tragedy of "Doomsday", this is one of Gold's finest hours.

Music by Murray Gold
"Seeking the Doctor", "Finding Jackie",
"The Cybermen", "The Impossible Planet",
"New Adventures", "The Daleks",
"Father's Day", "Doomsday",
"Rose's Theme", "The Lone Dalek"
and alternate versions of
"Song for Ten" are available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who by Murray Gold
Silva Screen SILCD1224

More info & buying options

A more fully developed version of
"All the Strange, Strange Creatures" is available on:
Audio CD - Doctor Who:
Original Music from "Series 3"

More info & buying options

I was secretly pleased to finally see the back of Rose, but a bit disappointed with the way in which it affected some of the other characters. For me, that was the real sadness of the story.

After a nearly perfect emotional sign-off and satisfying concluding moment, the story failed to end where it should have ...presumably to tease us to tune in for yet another Christmas special. At times like this, I suspect Davies aims so hard for developing the female audience that he forgets what the show is supposed to be about. Uggh! I resigned myself to sitting through another dud holiday episode that couldn't think beyond domestic Earth events.

The comic timing attempted was atrociously unfunny in the little burp of a scene that forms the coda of "Doomsday". I suspect this is another of Davies' innumerable stunts that rely on an audience who recognizes the guest stars he's managed to coerce onto the show. Sadly, this adventure's exit from its highly emotional conclusion is sadly disjointed.


With all of its ups and downs, "Doomsday" is a fairly big winner, coming out slightly ahead of "School Reunion". Indeed, all three of this season's full length two-part adventures have been better than all other episodes of new Doctor Who that Davies and co. have produced, so they've done some good work this season and put their best efforts in most of the right places. Season 28 is a year to be reckoned with, and has earned a favourable place in the growing annals of Doctor Who. Curiously, three writers completely new to televised Doctor Who walk away with the top stories while the more established base of fan writers play catch up. I can't help pondering the significance of that as we dive into the rankings:



Season 28 Rankings:

Best Story:

  1. The Impossible Planet
  2. Rise of the Cybermen
  3. Doomsday
  4. School Reunion
  5. New Earth
  6. The Girl in the Fireplace
  7. Tooth and Claw
  8. The Christmas Invasion
  9. Fear Her
  10. The Idiot's Lantern
  11. Love and Monsters

Best Writer:

  1. Matt Jones (The Impossible Planet)
  2. Tom MacRae (Rise of the Cybermen)
  3. Toby Whithouse (School Reunion)
  4. Russell T. Davies (various from Doomsday to Love and Monsters)
  5. Steven Moffat (The Girl in the Fireplace)
  6. Matthew Graham (Fear Her)
  7. Mark Gatiss (The Idiot's Lantern)


Best Director:

  1. Graeme Harper (Rise of the Cybermen / Doomsday)
  2. James Strong (The Impossible Planet)
  3. James Hawes (School Reunion, New Earth, The Christmas Invasion)
  4. Euros Lyn (The Girl in the Fireplace, Tooth and Claw, Fear Her, The Idiot's Lantern)
  5. Dan Zeff (Love and Monsters)


"Doomsday" is available on DVD.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

DVD NTSC
Region 1
14-episode boxed set
for the North American market:

DVD PAL
Region 2
14-episode box set
for the U.K.
DVD PAL
Region 2
plain 3-episode volume
U.K. format only

Note: The full season sets contain commentaries, behind-the-scenes featurettes, and other extras. The smaller volumes only feature the plain episodes.


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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "The Runaway Bride"



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